SDCC 2017: Representation Matters, Diverse Panel Highlights

There is no better place to get your pop culture fix than San Diego Comic Con, one of the largest pop culture conventions in the country and frequently referred to as ‘nerd prom.’ There is also no better place to find your niche, bond with your people, and make new lifelong friends over discovered interests. And finally, there’s no better place to feel included in the community.

Wonder Woman continues to dominate at the box office, Black Panther is on the horizon, The Doctor is now Jodi Whittaker and the geek community could not be happier. Representation matters, from women who never expected to see a Wonder Woman film on the big screen to all the little kids who look up to Miles Morales, there are more and more opportunities to showcase diversity in all aspects of the nerd community.

We’ve gone through the schedule and highlighted some of the interesting panels showcasing all different kinds of diversity – sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, and more (we’ve left out specifically female-focused panels because we’ve got those highlights here). If you’re looking to round out your experience and learn about some of the minority aspects of geekery, here are some of the panels you should check out!

THURSDAY

Code Switch: Diversity Behind the Scenes
10:00am – 11:00am @ Room 25ABC

Jimmy Diggs (writer, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Voyager) and Gigi Edgley (Chiana on Farscape) lead a diverse panel of science fiction, fantasy, and gaming industry leaders as they share their perspectives from behind the scenes of your favorite franchises. African American, veteran, LGBTQ, and female creatives discuss diversity of background and thought. Learn how obstacles overcome, stereotypes broken, and glass ceilings shattered have fueled creative magic! Panelists to include Dan Evans (VP of creative affairs, DC Comics), Rebekah Ganiere(author, Dead Awakenings), Alison Haislip (actor, host, gamer), Mark O’Bannon (author, The Dream Crystal), and Morgan Romine (director of initiatives, anykey.org).

A Bunch of Jews (A Minyen Yidn)
12:30pm – 1:30pm @ Room 24ABC

Publisher Hope Nicholson, creator Trina Robbins (Pretty in Ink), and contributing artists Jen Vaughn, Elizabeth Watasin, Miriam Libicki, and Willy Mendes discuss the creation of the anthology A Bunch of Jews (A Minyen Yidn) and portraying Jewish characters from within and outside of the culture.

Moonlight and Magic: Black LGBTQ Contributions to Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Comics, and Genre
5:00pm – 6:00pm @ Room 28DE

The Black LGBTQ experience has brought unique and significant intersectional perspectives to our society and popular media: Black Lives Matter was founded by three black queer women; Black LGBT authors Octavia Butler and Samuel Delany created legendary works; bisexual writer Roxane Gay brought Marvel’s Black Pantherto deep critical acclaim; and Moonlight won the Oscar for Best Picture. Join Prism Comics with moderator Faith Cheltenham (BiNet USA VP, Tor.com co-creator) and panelists Viktor Kerney (Prism board member, GayMediaSoWhite creator), Ajuan Mance (8-rock.com), Sean Z. Maker (Bent-Con), Monica Roberts(TransGriot, National Transgender Advocacy Coaltion), William O. Tyler a.k.a. WOT (Queerbait), and Eliot Sutler, Esq. (BiWoCC) as they discuss the power of the Black LGBTQ experience and its positive effect not only on popular media but on society and the world at large.

Small Press Beyond the Wall
5:30pm – 6:30pm @ Room 26AB

Fernando “Fers” Sánchez Antillón (Soulkeepers), Adalisa Zarate (Writer’s Block), Gina Chacón (Studio XIII), Alejandra Zuñiga (Studio XIII), Adriana De La Torre (Studio XIII), and Joel Ojeda Lopez (Zenescope Entertainment) discuss the challenges of creating, publishing, and distributing comic books in Mexico under the shadow of the American industry. Moderated by Martín Arceo (Santos Cómics).

LGBTQ Geek Year in Review
6:00pm – 7:00pm @ Room 28DE

The past year has been filled with key moments in comics, TV, movies, animation, and games that every queer geek should know about. The panel will discuss the significance of these events to the greater LGBTQ community. Hosted by Prism Comics and moderated by P. Kristen Enos (Prism Comics, Active Voice the Comic Collection), the panel includes Diane Anderson-Minshall (editorial director, The Advocate, Plus Magazine, and Tiny Living Chic), Nick Adams (director of programs, GLAAD’s Transgender Media), Mike Ciriaco (LA Weekly, WeHoTV News), Amber Garza (director of international licensing, Sequential Rights; West Coast coordinator, Geeks OUT!), Chelsea Steiner (AfterEllen.com, Autostraddle.com), and Amelia Vaughn (Huffington Post, Riptide Publishing).

International Creator Slam: Europe Versus USA
7:00pm – 8:00pm @ Room 32AB

Believe it or not, there’s more than one way to make a great comic! Come see American and European creators discuss differences and similarities in creating comics on the two sides of the Atlantic with Nick Abadzis (Laika, US/UK), José Luis Munuera (Les Campbell, Spain/France), and Ted Naifeh (Night’s Dominion, USA). Free European comics tote bags and goodies for all attendees.

It Gets Geekier: Why Queer Representation Matters
7:30pm – 8:30pm @ Room 24ABC

Joshua Yehl (IGN Comics) brings It Gets Geekier back to discuss the importance of including LGBT+ characters in comic books, TV shows, and movies. Host Bryan Pittard (Flame On! Podcast) will lead the talk including Sina Grace (Iceman), Kris Anka (All-New X-Men), Megan Townsend (GLAAD), Marc Andreyko (Love is Love) and more.

FRIDAY

Geeking out on Secret Loves: When Personal Tales Fill the Page
10:00am – 11:00am @ Room 25ABC

The Secret Loves of Geek Girls is the newest anthology from editor Hope Nicholson about love, sex, and dating, with stories from cartoonists and professional geeks who tell their intimate, heartbreaking, and inspiring stories. Join Dark Horse creators of all genders, orientations, and cultural backgrounds for a discussion on the modern idea of love: J. P. Larocque (Gay Nerds), Amy Chu (Red Sonja), Cecil Castellucci (Soupy Leaves Home), Vita Ayala (Our Work Fills the Pews), and moderator Dustin Nelson (social media coordinator at Dark Horse).

The Black Panel
10:00am – 11:30am @ Room 5AB

The Black Panel is 20 years old. A new era begins with an unprecedented event. Panelists for the year’s 20th-anniversary forum will not be announced in advance. If you’ve never been to Michael Davis’s Black Panel, you wouldn’t know some of the biggest names in media have graced its stage. Who’s been chosen for this 20th-anniversary celebration? Non-ya. Don’t get that? Here’s a clue: Non-ya is a response, not a rapper.

Diversity in Comics
11:00am – 12:00pm @ Room 9

Brian Buccellato (Detective Comics, The Flash), Elena Salcedo (editor-in-chief, Top Cow Productions), Joe Illidge(senior editorial manager, Lion Forge), Ani-Mia (international cosplayer), Blake Northcott (Michael Turner’s Fathom), Hannibal Tabu (CBR’s The Buy Pile), Marcus To (Joyride, Red Robin), and Khary Randolph (Mosaic, The Amazing Spider-Man) discuss the shifting landscape of diversity in modern comics. Moderated by Vince Hernandez (VP/editor-in-chief, Aspen Comics).

Diversity in Comics: India’s Superheroes on the Rise!
1:00pm – 2:00pm @ Room 32AB

Graphic India co-founder and creator Sharad Devarajan (Chakra: The Invincible, Shadow Tiger, Astra Force) presents an engaging session about globalization, East meets West, the new diversity and culture in comics, and the birth of Indian superheroes. Graphic India will also discuss their new projects, including the animated series Baahubali: The Lost Legends on Amazon Prime Video and the new comic series with Grant Morrison Avatarex: Destroyer of Darkness.

Bisexuality and Beyond: Deadpool Made Us Do It (Again and Again and…)
2:00pm – 3:00pm @ Room 28DE

Definitions of gender and sexuality are becoming more and more open in popular media as comics, film, and television creators are telling stories with bisexual characters and affirming role models who are not limited to one definition. Join Prism Comics with moderator Faith Cheltenham (BiNet USA) for a spirited discussion of the present and future of sexuality in media with the real-life bisexual creators who draw, write, and perform these roles: Tara Madison Avery (Gooch, Anything That Loves), R. J. Aguiar (YouTube’s TheNotAdam, NotAdamAndSteve.com), Lynnette McFadzen (BiNet USA), and Eliot Sutler, Esq. (BiWoCC). Last year, BleedingCool.com called this panel “One Of The Most Amazing Moments Of Affirmation At San Diego Comic-Con.”

Hip-Hop and Comics: Cultures Combining
6:30pm – 7:30pm @ Room 8

Hip-hop and comics come together, bringing varied elements to create new worlds of imagination. They also share many inspirations and influences; rappers and graffiti artists utilize superheroic imagery and adopt larger-than-life alter egos; MCs and producers assemble universes with words and sound; comic creators incorporate the music, dance, fashion, and visual vocabulary of hip-hop into their work. Here, Patrick A. Reed (Depth of Field, ComicsAlliance) assembles an all-star group of visual and musical innovators to discuss the ways these two artistic cultures intertwine.

SATURDAY

Spotlight on March Creators Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell
10:00am – 11:00am @ Room 23ABC

The record-breaking success of the March trilogy by Civil Rights icon John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell has pushed the comics medium to incredible new heights. March is the first graphic novel to win the National Book Award, Coretta Scott King Book Award, or Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, the first graphic novel since Maus to reach the New York Times Nonfiction Best Seller list, and the first book in history to receive four simultaneous awards from the American Library Association. Now, join the authors for an emotional look back at their stunning accomplishment-and the way it’s inspiring new generations to speak up, speak out, and move their feet.

Kodansha Comics: Akira, Sailor Moon, Battle Angel Alita, and More!
11:30am – 12:30pm @ Room 8

The global manga publisher Kodansha Comics is here with exciting new series and new editions of classics, including Akira, Sailor Moon, The Ghost in the Shell, and Battle Angel Alita, with a special appearance by Eisner-nominated Princess Jellyfish editor Yumi Sukemune. Enjoy a rare opportunity to speak with someone involved in the Japanese manga production process, as well as editors and localizers for your favorite manga, including Fairy Tail, Noragami, and Attack on Titan, plus free books and promo items!

Comic-Con How To: Comics and Other Geek Items for the Vision Impaired
1:00pm – 2:00pm @ Room 2

Joshua Loya is a martial artist, public speaker, and professional adventurer who has taken it upon himself to help others craft compelling stories. In his youth, combat sports and athletics were not generally available to him because he was at very high risk for losing his eyesight. Joshua found solace in comics and genre fiction, despite eventually losing his eyesight and pursuing martial arts full-time. Scott Brick is an American actor, writer, and award-winning narrator of over 600 audiobooks. He has narrated books for a number of high-profile authors, including Michael Crichton, Frank Herbert, and Isaac Asimov.

Marvel: Black Eyed Peas’ Masters of the Sun
3:00pm – 4:00pm @ Room 6A

From the mind of will.i.am comes this retro futuristic b-boy zombie thriller. Fusing together the unlikeliest of genres with ease, Masters of the Sun mixes LA gang culture, b-boy-ism, and Egyptology to tell the heroic tale of a hip-hop group from East LA who must battle an ancient god that’s turning black drug dealers and gangsters into zombies. Join will.i.am, Taboo, and apl.de.ap from the Black Eyed Peas to discuss the MOTS experience and the future of delivering immersive content.

Women and Writers of Color Breaking Barriers
4:00pm – 5:00pm @ Room 4

An eclectic panel of UCLA Extension instructors currently working in the entertainment industry discuss how they got where they are, what issues they continue to face, and what it will take before there is real change. Speakers include Laurence Walsh-Hodson (NCIS, The Dresden Files), Nancy Nigrosh (former agent of Kathryn Bigelow), Steve Harper (American Crime, Covert Affairs), Melinda Hill (Kickin’ It, Adventure Time), Deborah Dean Davis (It Takes Two, Daddy Boot Camp), Cynthia Hsiung (Young Hercules, The Real World), Eunetta T. Boone (One on One, The Hughleys), Cynthia Riddle (Puppy Love, The Brittany Murphy Story) and moderator Kim Adelman(independent film producer).

Black Lightning Special Video Presentation and Q&A
4:50pm – 5:10pm @ Ballroom 20

Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) is a man wrestling with a secret. As the father of two daughters and principal of a charter high school that also serves as a safe haven for young people in a New Orleans neighborhood overrun by gang violence, he is a hero to his community. Nine years ago, Pierce was a hero of a different sort. Gifted with the superhuman power to harness and control electricity, he used those powers to keep his hometown streets safe as the masked vigilante Black Lightning. However, after too many nights with his life on the line and seeing the effects of the damage and loss that his alter ego was inflicting on his family, he left his superhero days behind and settled into being a principal and a dad. Choosing to help his city without using his superpowers, he watched his daughters Anissa (Nafessa Williams) and Jennifer (China Anne McClain) grow into strong young women, even though his marriage to their mother, Lynn (Christine Adams), suffered. Almost a decade later, Pierce’s crime-fighting days are long behind him-or so he thought. But with crime and corruption spreading like wildfire and those he cares about in the crosshairs of the menacing local gang The One Hundred, Black Lightning returns-to save not only his family but also the soul of his community. Based on the characters from DC, Black Lightning is from Berlanti Productions and Akil Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television with executive producers Greg Berlanti (Arrow, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, The Flash, Supergirl), Salim Akil and Mara Brock Akil (Being Mary Jane, The Game, Jumping the Broom, Girlfriends), and Sarah Schechter (Arrow, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, The Flash, Supergirl). Black Lightning premieres midseason on The CW.

IDW Publishing’s Antar: A Middle Eastern Legend for the Modern Age
6:30pm – 7:30pm @ Room 8

With genre entertainment now embraced by all corners of the globe, comic books celebrate the best of common humanity. The history and legends of Antar, the half-African, half-Arab poet warrior, present a prime example of this, and his adventures have been enjoyed for centuries in the Middle East. Inspired by his life, Jabal Entertainment’s CEO Sohaib Awan (Jinnrise) will discuss the cultural significance of the bridge-building comic with series writer Nnedi Okorafor (the Binti series), Michelle Nickelson (managing director, Mirage Studios), Jeff Gomez (CEO, Starlight Runner Entertainment), and Chris Ryall (chief creative officer, IDW Publishing).

Gays in Comics, Out in Comics: A 30th Year Celebration
6:00pm – 8:00pm @ Room 29AB

The comic world’s longest-running panel celebrates its 30th year with an all-star panel and celebration that will spotlight creators, comics, and fans from 1988 to the present. What a difference 30 years makes! “Diversity” has become a rallying cry in the comics world today. Almost every comic company is looking toward LGBTQ or LGBTQ-friendly creators for work that reflects the world around us today-gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender characters as well as people of color, other cultures, and more. This year, founding moderator and bestselling author Andy Mangels (Wonder Woman ’77 Meets the Bionic Woman, Star Trek books) returns to chair the panel and welcomes Tara Madison Avery (Anything That Loves, Gooch, Alphabet), Roxane Gay (Black Panther: World of Wakanda, Bad Feminist, SDCC special guest), Sina Grace (Iceman, Self-Obsessed, Burn the Orphanage), Phil Jimenez (Superwoman, Wonder Woman, Infinite Crisis), Steve Orlando (Midnighter and Apollo, Supergirl, Justice League of America), and Molly Ostertag (Shattered Warrior, Strong Female Protagonist, The Witch Boy). Showcased throughout will be special video messages from an array of Hollywood and comic book celebrities sending special 30th anniversary messages to their LGBTQ fans and allies, plus a Prism Comics Fan Mixer including cool swag giveaways and a silent auction of incredible comics items!

It Takes All Kinds to Make The Comics: A Dark Horse Celebration of Diversity
5:30pm – 6:30pm @ Room 8

For years, comics creators from a variety of backgrounds have been doing incredible work furthering the medium of sequential art. With award-winning storytelling and phenomenal artistic expression, people from a variety of backgrounds have truly started a movement of more accurate and diverse representation in the comic business. Join Gabriel Bá (Two Brothers), Fábio Moon (Two Brothers), Jose Pimienta (Soupy Leaves Home), Irene Koh (The Legend of Korra: Turf Wars), and Erika Alexander (Concrete Park) for a fascinating conversation on embracing people and cultures from around the world and what changes they think still need to be made in the comics industry.

We Are All Heroes: The Changing Landscape of Comics, Geekdom, and Fanboy Culture
7:15pm – 8:15pm @ Room 6DE

A diverse group of entertainment’s greatest names gather to explore the changing landscape of comics, geekdom, and fanboy culture among African Americans, Latinos, women, special interest groups, and more.

SUNDAY

Comics, Beyond the Wall
11:00am – 12:00pm @ Room 29AB

Eisner Award winners/Brazilian wonder twins Gabriel Bá (Daytripper, Two Brothers) and Fábio Moon (Daytripper, How to Talk to Girls at Parties) talk about the things readers can learn with a wide variety of foreign comics and how everything can be mixed together to end up with something unique and outstanding. They invite you to a session that will bring down the walls that kept you from discovering new and awesome stories.

Fantasy, Diversity, and Inspiring One Another
11:00am – 12:00pm @ Room 32AB

Leigh Bardugo (Six of Crows, Crooked Kingdom, and Wonder Woman: Warbringer), Michael Dante DiMartino(Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Legend of Korra, and Rebel Genius), and Tomi Adeyemi (Children of Blood and Bone) talk about fantasy across all mediums, diversity in literature and on the screen, and their inspirations for their works. All three creators will discuss their upcoming projects: The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo, Warrior Genius and The Legend of Korra comics by Michael DiMartino, and Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone(both the trilogy and the forthcoming movie adaptation, which has been optioned by Fox 2000). Moderated by Kurt Mattila, film director and editor of such films as Tron: The Next Day and Lies & Alibis. Kurt’s love for filmmaking is rivaled only by his passion for comic books, which he channels through his superhero podcast, The Big Pull.

A Conversation about Inclusivity and Diversity in Comics and the Comics Market
11:30am – 12:30pm @ Room 8

Hear a diverse mix of creators and booksellers discuss diverse characters in comics, finding and audience for them, and the impact that the push for inclusiveness has had on the comics both creatively and financially.

DIY Reboot: The Restorative Power of Fanfiction
12:00pm – 1:00pm @ Grand 1 & 2, Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina

In a discussion moderated by Jen Stout (fanfic editor, beta reader), panelists Kaylie Allen (multifandom writer), Shannon Conover (fandom blogger), and Phoenix Mendoza (fan artist, writer) explore fanfic’s roots in zine and queer culture, variations across decades and fandoms, sexism concerning how fan works are perceived by the general public, and fanfic’s healing, restorative qualities for readers, writers, and fans.

NOTORIUM: Title Announcement with Creator Terry Crews
3:00pm – 4:00pm @ Room 6DE

Making his creative debut in the comic book arena, actor/creator Terry Crews (Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Expendables series) presents his new sci-fi miniseries NOTORIUM through studio AHR Visions, LLC. Crews and the creative team will discuss the comic, plans for the property, and the need for expanding reflective diversity within the comics and entertainment multimedia platform.

Super Asian America
3:00pm – 4:00pm @ Room 29AB

With live-action versions of Death Note and Ghost in the Shell, Hollywood keeps mining Asian culture for inspiration-while sidelining Asian people. At the same time, series like Into the Badlands and Master of None demonstrate how successful shows with Asian leads can be. The state of Super Asian America in 2017 is assessed by panelists Will Choi (Asian AF), Deric Hughes (The Flash), Angela Kang (The Walking Dead), C. B. Lee (Not Your Sidekick), Lewis Tan(Iron Fist), and Dr. Nancy Yue n (Reel Inequality). Moderated by Racebending.com’s Michael Le.

More Science in Your Fiction with the League of Extraordinary Scientists and Engineers
4:00pm – 5:00pm @ Room 28DE

Writers, directors, sci-fi fans, and kids: Get ready to ask your questions about the real science in your fiction! Jeane Wong (founder and educator, LXS) is obsessed with science and has a solid background in superheroes and teaching young minds about discovering those same powers in the real world-from tiny insects to deep ocean creatures to robots, rockets, and beyond! Jeane hosts Dr. Andy Allen (professor, Scripps Institute of Oceanography), Dr. Tom Darlington (chief scientist, nanoComposix), Ben Frable (marine biologist, Scripps Institute of Oceanography), Dr. Sunny Fugate (engineer, A.I. Research, Space and Naval Warfare Systems), Dr. Nicolas Galitzki (cosmologist, University of California San Diego), Dr. Jeff McQuaid (marine biologist, Scripps Institute of Science), Jason Roberg (professor, conceptual science), Dr. Lisa Zeigler (viral ecologist, J. Craig Venter Instititute), and Angela Zoumplis (scientist, National Science Foundation). They will discuss how comics and science fiction push scientists and engineers to rocket past what is known to be possible and into an otherwise unimaginable future!